The eThekwini municipality, in KwaZulu-Natal, has upgraded its road classification database to comply with national policy through a R9.5-million project undertaken by engineering and development consultant SMEC South Africa.
Project director Kresen Manicum notes that the aim is to achieve compliance with national policy, as an up-to-date road network, classified in accordance with both the latest Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework for South Africa and the Committee of Transport Officials – Road Classification and Access Management guidelines enables improved functionality, accessibility and mobility of the road network. It also benefits the eThekwini Transport Authority and road users within the municipality.
SMEC South Africa, formerly Vela Consulting Engineers, invested in the latest technology to capture road features for the classification of about 15 000 km of the eThekwini municipal area.
The project began in February 2012 and was successfully completed on March 28, says project manager Andrew McKune, highlighting that the previous road classification took place in 2009.
He explains that the company has handed over a data set of geo-referenced photographs to the eThekwini municipality, which categorises nonmotorised transport locations, public transport facilities, ped- estrian crossings and traffic-calming devices. This can be used as a reference point for the municipality when improving infrastructure, adds McKune.
He says the project has been well received, owing to extensive planning with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport (DoT) and various eThekwini municipal departments.
One of the biggest challenges of the project was the integrity of the data sets that the company received, as they were outdated and had to be integrated with data that was still being determined by the KwaZulu-Natal DoT.
“Integrating the municipal and provincial data sets was challenging, as there were different opinions regarding certain road categories,” he points out.
McKune says, to address this challenge, the data was verified, noting
that the data verification process was a challenge in itself, owing to the amount of data that had to be collected through visual inspections of the road network and by conducting traffic counts.
Manicum states that this project has not only provided the foundation for future projects undertaken by the municipality, but it has also assisted in defining regional traffic, as opposed to local traffic.
“It gives the KwaZulu-Natal government, as well as the eThekweni municipality, a platform and an informed mechanism to assist in various aspects of development and transport planning, including traffic operations,” he concludes.